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Virgin Galactic sees delay to space mission with Italian Air Force (Sept. 10)

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Banner hangs outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of the Virgin Galactic (SPCE) IPO in New York, U.S., October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(This September 10th story removes incorrect reference to company attributing the delay to FAA probe in paragraph 2)

(Reuters) – Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc on Friday flagged a delay to its first commercial research mission with the Italian Air Force to mid-October due to a potential manufacturing defect.

The company said the delay in the mission, named “Unity 23” was unrelated to the pending resolution of a probe by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Virgin Galactic said on Friday a third-party supplier warned of a potential manufacturing defect in a component of the flight control system during test flight preparations.

“At this point, it is not yet known whether the defect is present in the company’s vehicles and what, if any, repair work may be needed,” the company said, adding it was conducting inspections with the vendor.

The mission was initially set for late September or early October to carry three paying crew members from the Italian Air Force and the Rome-based government agency National Research Council.

The FAA is investigating the flight that took billionaire Richard Branson to space in July, and last week barred SpaceShipTwo flights until the agency approves the final mishap report or determines the issues do not affect public safety.

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